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As the founder and majority shareholder of FINCA Impact Finance—a global network of community-based microfinance institutions and banks that span five continents—FINCA International is enabling access to responsible financial services for low-income clients. To reach more people, drive greater efficiency and reduce costs, the FINCA Impact Finance network is using innovations in banking and financial technology (“fintech”) to transform finance in underserved markets around the world to expand financial inclusion to populations that are traditionally excluded.
While the availability of financial services remains low in developing countries, mobile phone penetration is on the rise. Mobile credit, savings, payment and e-wallet solutions help the poor access financial services. This saves them time and enables them to make secure transactions anytime and anywhere. From a savings product in Tanzania to a free-to-use digital payments product in Pakistan, mobile banking innovations are paving new pathways to financial inclusion.
In 2018, mobile banking accounted for 13 percent of all transactions across the FINCA Impact Finance network.
In areas without a physical branch presence, banking agents help to extend the reach of responsible financial services. A banking agent is a local merchant contracted to process clients’ financial transactions. An agent could be the owner of the local hardware store, grocery stand or corner shop. Each agent uses a point-of-sale (POS) terminal that connects to the subsidiary banking network and client accounts. When a client visits a banking agent, he or she may pay bills, make deposits, withdraw or transfer funds, view account balances or conduct other transactions. FINCA’s agency banking began in DR Congo in 2012. By the end of 2018, FINCA DR Congo had a network of more than 1,000 agents that process over 80 percent of its clients’ financial transactions. Also in Africa, a partnership between FINCA Zambia, Comic Relief and Jersey Overseas Aid is set to transform agency banking to reach the rural poor.
Banking agents processed nearly 30 percent of FINCA clients’ transactions in 2018.
Banking agents utilize POS terminals equipped with biometric recognition, or fingerprint scans. This technology allows clients to access their FINCA accounts safely and securely. It also gives them security and control over their finances without worry about identity theft.
For the 1.7 billion unbanked adults around the world, the lack of formal borrowing history hinders their ability to access capital to grow small businesses. Alternative credit scoring methods are being tested in places like Guatemala, which may leverage psychometric or mobile data to accurately assess individuals’ credit worthiness with the goal of expanding financial inclusion.
Credit officers equipped with tablets can digitally receive and transmit client loan applications. This allows for faster, cleaner and more reliable data collection. Cloud technology helps to automate credit scoring and loan application processes.
Mastercard Foundation served as an important partner in the adoption of fintech, like agency banking. Learn more by watching this video: